Kenneth E. Goodson and Juan G. Santiago, Mechanical Engineering
This project will explore methods to increase the capacity of water harvesting system from the atmosphere. Atmospheric water in the form of vapor and droplets in the atmosphere is a resource equivalent to about 10% of all freshwater in lakes on the Earth. Collecting, moving, and treating water all have considerable costs. Water harvesting technologies, however, can be placed close to their location of use and produce clean freshwater. Current atmospheric water harvesting technologies tend to be energy intensive and require relatively high humidity. In this project we consider a novel method which couples absorbant surface layers, solar heating, heat exchangers, and capillary forces to increase water capture rate per area using existing materials. We target increases in specific capture rate (water mass per capture area of absorbant) by more than an order of magnitude. The design will be powered with "solar" or "low-grade" energy harvesting schemes for day and night operations.